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"No direct contact," John said, glaring pointlessly, "is what Dr. Beckett said. I'd think that would be clear enough for someone who's supposed to be a genius."
" 'No direct contact' means 'Don't touch it' in English, which is the language you and I allegedly share, although frankly this is not the first time I've had my doubts," McKay snapped, pacing just as fast as if he could see where he was going. "I was two feet away from the thing, and the fact that we managed to find the only planet in the universe with vicious, sentient, territorial, spitting dandelions is certainly not my fault."
"No, it's mine. I put them there on purpose just for you. I said to myself: Self, what could Dr. Rodney McKay not resist?" John raised a finger brightly, not caring that Rodney couldn't see it. "Aha! A dandelion!" McKay ignored him and kept on going from one side of the room to the other, one hand on the wall for guidance and a sneer aimed so unerringly that John found it hard to remember that McKay couldn't see him.
John supposed he ought to be trying to comfort McKay, who after all had gotten a big squirt of dandelion poison right in the eyes, and who didn't yet know how long it was going to take for his vision to come back. But a McKay who needed comforting was a McKay who was making you itch to throttle him. They still had 22 hours of quarantine, and John was already near the end of his rope. If the dandelions were going to make McKay temporarily blind, at least they could have had the decency to make John temporarily deaf.
"I'm probably not ever going to get my sight back," McKay snarled, and then it really seemed to hit him, and he slid down the wall to sit on the floor and said in a completely different voice, "What if I don't ever get my sight back? What if these things blind you for good?"
"You'll get your sight back," John said, sitting down against the same wall but out of punching range, just in case. "Beckett said the poison should be out of your bloodstream in a day or so."
"What does he know? Has he made a study of spitting flowers?"
"Look," John said. "There was a big patch of them growing right next to a thickly populated area full of people genetically identical to humans. If it caused permanent blindness, don't you think they'd have rooted it out?"
"Not if they couldn't see it!" McKay yelled. "Look, do you really think I'm going to get my sight back?"
"Uh, yeah, I think so."
"You had to think about it, though."
"Give me a break!" John said. "If I'd answered right away, you would have said, 'You're just saying that to shut me up. You didn't even think about it.' "
"Because I don't know how I can do anything worth doing here if I can't see," McKay went on.
"I'm sure you can be annoying in braille." John had a sudden thought. "You could make the equipment talk to you. Hey, I'll bet you could make the city talk to you if you needed to."
"Yeah? Hey, yeah, for all we know, the city is all rigged up to help people with handicaps." His face fell. "Of course, for all we know, the Ancients dealt with blind people by tossing them into the ocean."
"Look, it doesn't matter, because you're going to get your sight back, so there's no sense in worrying about it, so why don't you calm down before you give yourself a coronary and have something bigger to worry about than your eyes?"
"Fine," McKay said, pointedly turning away. "If you find my misfortune tedious, I won't force you to listen."
John sighed. Beckett hadn't allowed them to go back to their own rooms before hustling them into quarantine. John would have sold McKay to any random species in exchange for something to read. He tipped his head back and shut his eyes.
He wasn't expecting McKay to shut up, but McKay did, and John sat there for so long that he might have slept a little. The next thing he was aware of was McKay giving a little gasp beside him.
He opened his eyes. McKay was staring fixedly at one of the cots, with an expression that suggested that something fascinating was happening there. "I -- Major?"
"Yeah?" John said.
McKay started and turned his head in the approximate direction of John's face. "Where are you?"
"I'm not going anywhere," John said. "Beckett won't let me out either, remember?"
"OK, keep talking, because I thought I was getting my sight back, but if you're over there, I'm hallucinating."
"What do you see?" McKay's head turned back toward the cot, and he just stared at it. "McKay?"
"Just, just, keep talking so I know where you are." McKay tugged at the collar of his shirt, even though it was pretty loose already, and if John wasn't imagining things, his hand was shaking a little.
"It isn't real," John said in as soothing a voice as he could manage. "Whatever it is, it isn't really there. One time, uh, this friend of mine, he tried mescaline, and he saw his father cutting off his fingers with a machete and eating them, one by one."
McKay blinked his unseeing eyes. "Cutting off his own fingers?" he said, not looking away from the cot. "Or cutting off the son's fingers?"
"The son's," John said. "It was -- he said it was really horrible to watch him chew."
McKay finally looked away from the cot. John noticed that McKay tended to look more at the top of his head than at his eyes. "Oh, thank you for that. I'm truly grateful. Because my subconscious was just not able to generate nightmare material on its own, and why did you stop talking? I distinctly remember asking you to talk."
"I don't like to interrupt." Whatever McKay was seeing over there must be pretty horrific. There was sweat on his forehead now, but he didn't seem to be able to stop himself from looking. John looked himself, just to be sure, but it was nothing but a standard cot with a standard sheet on it and a standard blanket folded up at the foot of it.
"If you wait till you're not interrupting, you'll never get to say anything," McKay said, his head snapping back to look more or less at John, and then drifting back to the cot again. "You have no qualms about interrupting me when I don't need distracting from, oh, god." He swiped his face against the shoulder of his shirt, but it was some kind of mock-futuristic fabric that was entirely non-absorbent, so the result was only to redistribute the sweat and to leave his eyebrow rubbed the wrong way.
"It isn't real," John said again, because it was the only comforting thing he could think of.
"Sure looks real," McKay muttered. "I -- what if that stuff's alive, and it's eaten through my optic nerve and is attacking my brain? What if --" John scooted closer and put his hand on McKay's arm. McKay caught his hand in an uncomfortably tight grip. "OK, that's the real you, right? That's not some kind of tactile hallucination?"
"There's another me in your hallucination? I'm not chopping up any part of you, am I?"
"Not exactly," McKay said in a strangled voice, staring fixedly at the cot, where that other John was doing something that was freaking him out so badly that he was almost hyperventilating.
"It's OK. I'm right here. It's not real," John said urgently, a little hurt that McKay's subconscious would make him the villain. What had he ever done to deserve to be a monster in McKay's hallucination? He'd thought they were friends. "Look, do you have some subconscious hostility towards me?"
"What?" McKay's voice was climbing. "No, but I think a little conscious hostility could be forgiven, considering that I've got one Major Sheppard that I can hear but can't see, and he's asking me lunatic questions, and another Major Sheppard that I can see but can't hear, and he's -- christ --" He grabbed for John's head, got hold of some hair and an ear, and pulled them both indiscriminately until John had to move, and then he kissed him.
Well. This was different.
John found it slightly weird to be kissing somebody who was male, and very weird to be kissing somebody who was desperate and frightened, but aside from that, it was pretty good. McKay smelled faintly floral and also like someone who had spent a day outside in the sun, and his mouth felt ... really nice. John suspected he was probably a decent kisser under better circumstances.
He didn't let go of John's hand. It went on for quite a long time.
When he moved, he didn't move far, just far enough that John could feel his panting breaths against his own newly-wet lips. "McKay?" he said uncertainly, and McKay said, "Oh, jesus, John," in a shaky voice, and all but climbed on his lap. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said into John's shoulder.
John could feel him turning his head to look back at the cot.
"It's OK," John said, rubbing his back in a way that he hoped was comforting.
"It's really, really not," McKay said, and kissed him again, a little slower this time.
When he was done, John's hands were under his shirt, and his back was sweaty but his skin felt incredible. "No, but I mean, I like you," John said, "and it's not that different --"
"What, from kissing people who aren't stoned and freaked out? No, jesus, I didn't mean stop. I still need a little help keeping in touch with reality here."
"What the hell is he doing in your hallucination?" John explored McKay's body a little further.
"Pretty much the same thing you are, and I said don't stop!" because John had tried to let go of his two surprisingly satisfying handfuls of McKay's ass. McKay grabbed behind himself with one hand and put John's hands back where he wanted them. "At least you're real, and also apparently less of an exhibitionist than he is."
John felt a slow grin starting, one that McKay would probably be just as happy not to see. "I may not be, actually," he said. "Not that there'd be any point until you get your eyesight back."
"I can't believe I have to be the one to remind you that you aren't gay," McKay said.
"McKay, I stepped through a thing called a Star Gate" -- two words, to communicate the full measure of how preposterous it was -- "and ended up in the lost city of Atlantis, which is in another galaxy, and where I seem to be able to turn on lights with my mind, and then I couldn't rescue my CO from some kind of cross-dressing space vampire, because it turns out that the UFO wackos are right and there is intelligent life on other planets, and it is out to get us, and at this point kissing somebody who has a dick doesn't even register on the weird-meter."
"Jesus, and people say I can't shut up," McKay said, and kissed him again.
"Anyway," John said after a while, when he'd hauled McKay's shirt off and used his mouth to get McKay to make a wide variety of noises, "the other me was gay, evidently."
"Of course he was," McKay snapped. "He was a product of the wish-fulfillment function of the subconscious, and great, clearly I will never ever learn to keep my mouth shut."
"This is your wishful thinking? Really?" He stroked McKay's collarbone, gently, with his fingertips, and McKay shivered.
"Well, some of it involves coffee, and some of it involves really good room service, but, um, yeah."
"Cool," John said, and kissed him some more, just to make sure McKay understood that it was OK with John if he'd been thinking about this, if he'd been lying in his bed at night and imagining this, his tongue in John's mouth and his hands, oh, god, and his hips rocking against John so that John could feel McKay's cock against his belly --
John said, "Oh," and pulled his own T-shirt off with one hand, and by the time his head had emerged from the fabric, McKay had one of John's nipples in his teeth, and fuck OK, it was way better than OK, it was perfectly fantastic as far as John was concerned.
"Here," he said, looking down at McKay's uncomfortable-looking crouch, "let's --" and he lay down flat, pulling McKay down with him. McKay immediately stretched out on top of him and went back to kissing him, rubbing his hard-on against John's through their pants in a way that felt perfectly amazing. John checked in with his brain to see if that thought freaked him out, him being supposedly a straight guy and all, but his brain only said, God, I could come just from this, and then added hopefully, But it would be even better naked, don't you think?
He shared that thought with McKay. McKay said, "Fuck, yes," and started trying to undo both their pants at once. The feel of his hands did nothing for John's coordination, and by the time they got the whole pants thing figured out and were stretched out side by side, John was next thing to desperate. McKay was saying, "Yeah, yeah, John, yeah," beautifully breathless, and John thought he'd never have known what a kick in the gut it was to hear that nonsensical sex talk in a guy's voice.
And then McKay opened his eyes and looked past John's shoulder at the cot. And even though having sex with McKay had never crossed John's mind until ten minutes ago, he was suddenly crazy jealous that McKay could look at anybody else, even if the somebody else was him.
He rolled on top of McKay, pinning him to the floor, and took his weight on his elbows so he could use his hands to turn McKay's face up. "No," he said, low and dangerous. "Don't look at him. Look at me. Look at me, Rodney."
Rodney made a noise in the back of his throat and said, "Yeah, yeah, OK," and then he shut his eyes altogether, and god, John could feel him coming.
It was so amazing that John just lay there and looked at him and tried to feel it all. "Hang on, hang on," Rodney said breathlessly, his hips still moving restlessly, "give me a second and I'll do you, I just need a second to -- oh yeah --"
"Don't," John grated out, "worry about it," and he came.
When he opened his eyes, he discovered that one or the other of them had made a pillow out of their clothes, and that nobody had bothered to wipe them down first, and that Rodney had his head propped up on his elbow and was looking at him. At his eyes, and not the top of his head.
"Hey," he said sleepily, and tightened the arm that was conveniently already wrapped around Rodney.
"Hey," Rodney said happily. "I can see you." And he tightened the arm that he had wrapped around John, so that they managed to have the whole Going to run screaming? -- Not if you aren't. -- OK, then conversation using only touch, and leaving their mouths free for kissing, which was a much better use for them.
When they took a little break, John said, "How do you know it's me and not the hallucination?"
Rodney gave him a sleepy smile. "Less eyeliner."
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April 30, 2005